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Portadown boss wants refs held to account

Crusaders 3 Portadown 1: Ronnie McFall has demanded that under-performing referees not only face the axe, but any action taken against them be made public after being on the wrong end of a crucial decision that could cost his team European qualification.

The Portadown manager slammed Tim Marshall after his decision to overrule his assistant and award a throw-in to Crusaders, which led to the home team's first-half leveller.

Both McFall and his Crues counterpart Stephen Baxter said they had heard the linesman confirm it was a 'blue ball' but the hosts were awarded the throw and went immediately on the attack, with Gary McCutcheon scoring to cancel out Darren Murray's opener just 10 minutes earlier.

The Seaview side powered ahead when they scored twice more in the first 15 minutes of the second half, through Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley, to complete a 3-1 victory that moved them five points ahead of the Ports in the battle to finish third in the Premiership and claim a Europa League berth.

McFall, who was also critical of Marshall's overall performance, is expecting to see the official back in the middle when the Premiership action resumes in two weeks' time after the Irish Cup semi-finals.

"I thought the referee was absolutely diabolical the whole match," said McFall. "There's no question about it, look at the replay and you'll see it is a clear Portadown throw-in right on the stroke of half time and the referee and his assistants messed up.

"Look at some of the challenges that were going in, players coming through the back of our players and everything else and he's letting play go on.

"The problem is that there no redress with these guys. He'll be refereeing again in the Premiership next week."

The Crues are now in pole position to qualify for Europe through the league, although they could also do so by winning the Irish Cup.

"Our performance level in the second half was clinical – really, really good," said Baxter. "That's what we are looking for. That's the kind of football we were playing before Christmas.

CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Magowan, Leeman, Coates, Hanley (McClean, 75 mins), Adamson (McMaster, 77 mins), Robinson, Clarke, Heatley, Owens, McCutcheon (Morrow, 75 mins). Unused subs: Dillon, Smith.

PORTADOWN: Miskelly, Casement, Breen, Friars, O'Hara, Mackle, Ramsey (McStay, 77 mins), McCafferty, Barton (McMahon, 58 mins), Murray, Twigg. Unused subs: Brennan, Traynor, Rooney.

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown).

Belfast Telegraph